Category Archives: Tea for health

Tea as a “debaucher of youth”

Catherine of Braganza, the Portuguese queen-consort of Charles II, is typically given credit for the initial popularization of tea in England. Tea had been popular among the aristocracy in Catherine’s home country of Portugal for years, as it was considered an exotic luxury by the rich. Catherine’s affection for tea spread to her courtiers and eventually to the upper classes. Tea is a rarity in that it maintained its popularity even after spreading to the lower classes.

This proliferation of tea-drinking among all social strata in England also led to controversy over its effects on  health – both physical and spiritual. William Cobbett, an English farmer and journalist, expressed his views that tea was a “destroyer or health” and “debaucher of youth” in his 1821 book Cottage Economy. He asserts that tea “corrupts boys as soon as they are able to move from home, and does little less for the girls to whom the gossip of the tea table is no bad preparatory school for the brothel.” According to Cobbett, the man who drinks tea “makes his miserable progress towards that death which he finds ten or fifteen years sooner than he would have found it had he made his wife brew beer instead of making tea.”

It seems ludicrous today to claim that tea – beloved by nanas everywhere – was once decried as a beverage that led to a life of prostitution followed by a premature death.

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Posted by on December 16, 2012 in Tea for health, Tea history


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The Deal with Kombucha

Buzz about Kombucha tea has been echoing from all corners of the Internet for the past few weeks. Madonna and Lindsay Lohan have been spotted imbibing the fermented beverage, and “Kombucha” was a trending search term on Google last week.

Lindsay Lohan drinking Kombucha tea

Photo courtesy of

Despite its recent trendiness, Kombucha tea is nothing new. It originated in China over 2,000 years ago, when it was referred to as an “immortal health elixir.” Kombucha is a mass of yeast and bacteria (yum) which is added to tea and allowed to ferment for about 10 days. During the fermentation period, hundreds of compounds — including B vitamins, alcohol and lactic acid — are released.

Kombucha enthusiasts claim that this yeasty-tea bolsters the immune system, boosts energy, aids digestion, prevents cancer, clears skin, increases the shininess of hair, and more. However, there is no conclusive scientific evidence in favor of these claims. In fact, illness and even death have resulted from the consumption of home-brewed Kombucha due to unsanitary and imprecise fermentation conditions.

Personally, I don’t love the idea of a mass of bacteria and yeast in my tea. But I enjoy a nice beer and yogurt of all descriptions, so I think that I shouldn’t let the description scare me away. Since the dangers of drinking Kombucha are limited to home-brewed versions, and the tea (like anything worth buying) is available at shops all over Brooklyn, I think I’ll pick some up this weekend and give it a shot.

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Posted by on October 20, 2012 in Images, Tea for health, Tea news, Tea trends


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Sun[burn] tea

The Teatotaler is an idiot. Despite my recent decision to forgo trying to achieve a sun-tan — due to a family history of skin cancer and desire to keep my skin youthful for as long as possible — I slipped up. I took an accidental nap on the beach before asking my roommate to slather sunscreen on my back.

The result?



That evening, I took a break from berating myself to catch up on my Twitter feed. As if the Twittersphere was paying attention to mundane details of my life, I saw that one of the homeopathic accounts I follow had posted about natural ways to soothe a sunburn…with TEA! How relevant!

The article revealed that applying cold black tea to a sunburn can ease the pain and tightness that comes along with killing a layer of your living cells (can you tell I’m still frustrated with myself?).

Upon further Googling, I found that several other sites, as well as that of Mother Earth News magazine, confirmed the benefits of topically-applied tea for sunburned skin. Something about the tannic acid and other compounds found in black teas.

One of the sites recommended using earl grey, and since it isn’t my favorite to drink and I have a whole bunch of it on hand from an English tea variety box, that’s what I used. I filled a pitcher with cool water and immersed three tea bags in it. It took much longer to steep to its normal color in the cold water, about 15 minutes.

I then faced the challenge of how I was going to apply a liquid to my back without making a colossal, staining mess. I ventured into my outdoor shower and essentially dumped it over my shoulders. I then sopped up the remaining tea into a dish towel and draped it over my back.

The coolness of the tea itself was soothing initially, and, after all was said and done, it definitely reduced that awful feeling of tightness that sunburns often bring. And it kept me from having to stifle a scream when I rolled onto my back in my sleep.

Ultimately, though, I’d recommend just remembering to wear sunscreen.

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Posted by on August 17, 2012 in Tea for health


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A New Tea on Top

A few weeks ago, I wrote about Big Island Tea, the world’s most expensive tea at about $20 per cup.

Today, The Huffington Post reported that there’s a new luxury tea on the market, tipping the scales in its favor at just over $200 per cup. And here’s the kicker: it’s grown using panda feces as fertilizer.

People love a sensational poop story, so, naturally, the news has proliferated on the Internet. Many headlines proclaim that the tea is made of panda dung, which is it isn’t (thank God).

The tea’s developer, An Yanshi, slapped on the astronomical price tag because the endangered animal’s dung is full of nutrients. Pandas, as it turns out, absorb only a fraction of the nutritional value of the bamboo they eat. The initial profits will be donated to an environmental fund, and future batches will be cheaper, he said.

An created the tea as a symbol of how waste can be converted into something useful and enjoyable.


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Posted by on March 19, 2012 in Tea culture, Tea for health, Tea news


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Make your tea as healthy as it’s cracked up to be

For ages, grandmothers and doctors alike have hailed tea as a cure-all for illness as well as a preventative measure against everything from coughs to cancer. And with good reason: leaf teas are chock full of flavonoids, which may protect their ingesters from cancers, heart disease, and clogged arteries.

However, recent findings have shown that both the type of tea you drink and the way you prepare it can affect whether or not you are receiving these health benefits. This article on WebMD explains which teas provide which health benefits. According to the article, green tea is the cancer- and cholesterol-buster, while black teas may reduce the risk of stroke.

Moreover, proper form is as essential in tea-drinking as it is in yoga, ballet, or golf. This article, featured in Well+Good NYC, provides a simple how-to for tea selection, brewing, and consumption that will maximize your tea’s warm, cozy, healthful goodness.

Spoiler: the more you drink, the better off you’ll be! No complaints here.

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Posted by on February 9, 2012 in Tea for health, Tea news


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